about what we have and would like to have, cont. (97)

Thu, 13 Apr 89 19:12:29 EDT

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 835. Thursday, 13 Apr 1989.

(1) Date: Wed, 12 Apr 89 20:43:06 CDT (30 lines)
From: Richard Goerwitz <goer@sophist.BITNET>
Subject: nonstandard operating system

(2) Date: Thursday, 13 April 1989 0939-EST (47 lines)
Subject: The Mac's (non?) Standard interface

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 89 20:43:06 CDT
From: Richard Goerwitz <goer@sophist.BITNET>
Subject: nonstandard operating system

Gads, let's not get into petty wars about whose computer is better.
I need a standard, multitasking programming environment, preferably
one with source code included, and preferably one that is commonly
used in mid-size computer systems. The Mac doesn't have this. MPW
is cute, but it has a pretty grainy implementation of multitasking,
and, I believe, no virtual memory capability. It is also hardly a

HOWEVER, this is not to say that the Mac is a "bad" machine. It
displays foreign fonts quite nicely, or at least better than IBM
type machines. Not that it is alone in this class, though. The
IBYCUS has a very slick overstrike mechanism that makes it good at
displaying non-western fonts with diacritics. The NeXT box, with
display postscript is also pretty nice. Actually, though, I didn't
have much trouble getting unusual fonts into my PC, with a little
hacking. The problem there is that the operating system doesn't
support this kind of funny business.

One final point: We should strive to avoid brand loyalty. It is
pretty hard to avoid feeling devoted to a machine that one has just
labored for several months to understand fully - one that has per-
haps sucked down a good bit of money to get fully configured. But
for the sake of a healthy market, it's better to remain as aloof as

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------53----
Date: Thursday, 13 April 1989 0939-EST
Subject: The Mac's (non?) Standard interface

This follows G. Rockwell's reply to R. Goerwitz's comment on the
Macintosh's "non-standard operating system"... I, too, was puzzled by
Goerwitz's comment, as it seems to me that the other major PC and
workstation operating systems (say, Windows on the PC, OS/2--if it ever
really happens--the interfaces to UNIX recently announced by every major
player in the workstation market, the NeXT) seem to be moving closer to
the look and feel of the Mac (there's a can of worms)... There can be
really no question that the windowing, icon-oriented, point-and-click
interface a la the Mac has become the standard against which other OS
are measured these days (go to a commercial trade show some time, and
listen to how many times a saleperson describing an non-Mac OS will
mention the Mac--"it's as easy to use as the Mac", "training times are
comparable to those on the Mac", "graphic capabilities rival those on
the Mac", etc.) That's not to say that the Mac interface doesn't need
some twiddling--which twiddling it will get, it seems, in the next major
System release, due this fall.

NOW, there are some difficulties in getting Macs to talk to other
PCs, or to mainframes (if, for example, like the nasty Bitnet node I'm
using at Penn only supports file transfer protocols for the PC, and the
support staff just looks blankly at you when you ask about Macintosh
stuff--though this should be considered primarily a local support
problem--?) These problems are not unique to the Mac--you get them when
you try anytime to talk between different computers. Arguably, many of
them are easier to solve with the Mac, which comes out of the box with
hardware and software provisions for networking and file
translation--the latter of which promises to be included in the next
operating system as a basic function. "Connectivity" is a buzzword these
days, and there is no shortage of solutions to communications and file
translation matters.

Since R. Goerwitz didn't say exactly what he was planning to do with his
workstations, I can't speak to restrictions that have more to do with a
lack of software for a specific task than with operating system

A postscript: I'd like to hear comments from other HUMANIST users re.
Macs in humanities computing--hardware configurations, software,
advantages, disadvantages, etc. I'm in the process of preparing a
survey on these matters that I will post to HUMANIST in the next few

T. Harpold. Bitnet: tharpold@penndrls